Ladakh, the land of high passes, is the topmost road trip destination in India. But, for me, Ladakh was only about trekking when I’d ever thought of traveling to the outlandish Trans-Himalayan range. I first visited Ladakh in 2014 winters for 2 weeks for the Chadar Trek and experienced extreme temperatures ranging from -5 degrees in the day to -30 degrees in the night. The glamorous frozen rivers, waterfalls and snow-covered mountains had stolen the entire show. This gave me a reason to visit Ladakh once more in 2014 summers to see the flamboyant Trans-Himalayas in brown, green, orange, purple, teal, pink under the rich blue sky. This time I spent 3 weeks in Ladakh and went on a solo trek to Markha Valley and Stok Kangri with a guide. I’d experienced living in authentic Ladakhi home stay on Markha Valley trek. I learnt about the culture, traditions and people of Ladakh. I’d even visited few monasteries, Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, KhardungLa. I knew there was more to Ladakh than just this. I was trying to control my temptation to visit Ladakh again, but i’d heard about the breathtaking roads that lead to Ladakh and I knew I would someday come back for that (I’d flown in previously due to limited leaves I had then).
While I was living in Tirthan Valley, a thought had crossed my mind about driving to Ladakh in 2017 when it rains in Tirthan. And I must say that wishes do come true. Come mid-June and I got invited by Scout My Trip for a road trip to Ladakh for Highest Blogger Meet.
A convoy of 5 SUVs, each one taken over by an expert scout, a squad of 15 bloggers and the trip leaders - the 2 co-founders of Scout My Trip, were flagged off from OYORooms Gurgaon. I didn't set expectations from the trip as I knew I had to just let my hair down and enjoy the journey. The entire trip was planned by the master minds of the DIY road trips platform ScoutMyTrip. But what came along the trip was an experience of a lifetime for me. The solo traveler was traveling in a group after years, and for the first time with such a huge group. It was a kind of travel that I’d never experienced before.
Swapping cars everyday:
Every morning we changed our cars and raided the roads of Ladakh on a different engine. My technical knowledge about cars was enriched by learning a lot more about different cars’ behaviour on the roads of Ladakh. While we swapped cars, we also swapped car partners. It was an exciting to travel with new people everyday. The rugged terrains of Ladakh would break down the cars at various levels and our official rescue car - Thar would attend the call of duty.
Experiencing curfew and road block in Kashmir:
We started our journey from Delhi towards the Srinagar route. The day we reached Jammu, there was a road blocks due to the Anantnag incident, so the next day when we left for Sonamarg, we weren't allowed to go ahead of Ramban. We had to spend the night at the only available property at Ramban. Scout My Trip team had smoothly arranged this impromptu night halt for the 20 of us.
Checking into comfortable OYORooms each night:
We spent around 10-12 hours on roads each day and every night we checked into a new OYORoom. The cosy beds and the warm rooms welcomed us for comfortable stays. I was surprised to see the presence of OYORooms in the remote parts.
Eating local food on highways in each state:
As we crossed 5 different states on our 12 day road trip, Neeraj Sinha (the head scout and CTO of Scout My Trip) and Anuradha Goyal (veteran blogger) wouldn't miss out on recollecting the local delicacies of those regions and we slurped on the parathas at Murthal, farm fresh corn in Punjab, punjabi food at local dhaba, Rogan josh in Sonmarg, Thukpa in Ladakh, Wai wai in Changthang, Mutton curry and rice in Koksar and a lot of tit-bits on the way.
Listening to various genres of playlists:
As we shared cars with different travellers each day, we grooved to various genres of music ranging from Qawalis from Anuradha, coke studio from Shubham, Kishore Kumar from Ami and Ajay, punjabi songs from Neha, SP Balasubramaniam from Deepak, live Gujarati translated songs from Samarth, EDM and DJ Snake from me.
Calming our souls at tranquil monasteries:
Visiting the oldest and most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh (Mulbekh monastery, Lamayuru monastery, Diskit Monastery and Thiksey monastery) on our road trip was soothing to the soul.
Waking up to the beautiful lakes:
Ladakh is highlighted on the world map for the most beautiful lakes it holds. We spent our nights and early mornings at Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. We lived in luxury tents which gave us the best views of the lakes. Driving by the side of the Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar and Tso Kiagar was the most fascinating part of the journey.
Knowing other interesting travellers:
I was revisiting most of the places, but this time it was in the company of other travellers and destinations seemed to matter less than the journey.
It was such a wonderful feeling to meet Anuradha Goyal, Mridula Dwivedi, Ragini Puri - the faces that I’d only seen and interacted with on social media.
My first hand interactions with Neha Kapoor, Johann Kuruvilla and Raza Rahil were so great that I would love to meet them again on some other travels.
I had some of the best times knowing the interesting team of scouts - Neeraj Sinha, Prateek Jain, Samarth Sankhla and Amit Nikam and I would be roadtripping with them often!
The co-founders of ScoutMyTrip, Deepak Ananth and Vineet Rajan, blew me away by their craziness and ability to pull off one of its kind of event on the highest and toughest roads of the world. Kudos to you!
Confluence of multiple talents:
Each one was passionate about things beyond travel which we wouldn’t have known had we not travelled together. Ajay Sood’s knowledge about photography and his attitude of selflessly sharing photography tips with everyone, Neha’s talent into singing and theatre, Deepak’s art of cracking us up with all his not-so-intelligent jokes, Samarth’s creativity with live singing performances, my moves on the dance floor, Neeraj’s and Khursheed’s chilled out and calm attitude, Anuradha’s and Lakshmi’s level-headedness - each had so much to contribute to make this trip a memorable one.
Recording Highest Blogger Meet with India Book of Records:
On our journey, we crossed the Highest motorable pass of the world and recorded the “Highest Blogger Meet” with India Book of Records. 20 bloggers with ScoutMyTrip and OYORooms team made this record at 18380 ft at Khardungla pass. We opened the meet and OYO launched OYONauts - a platform for bloggers to share their travel experiences and win all-expense paid trips in India, Nepal and Malaysia.
We continued the meet at the Tsolding Buddha Park (the most picturesque location for any meet) for 2 more hours where we discussed various facets of travel blogging. We celebrated our feat at Hunder that night and had official adjudication event with India Book of Records in Gurgaon on our return.
A lot was happening everyday and we didn’t realise that we crossed few of the highest passes of the world and ended our trip at the same place we had started from. A huge family who was just a group of strangers 12 days back, dispersed to their respective destinations the next day. I had taken back so many memories from the trip that the hangover of the trip lasted for at least a couple of weeks after it had actually ended.
After this trip, I know that on all my road trips the cars would be loaded with interesting travellers and I'm already planning my next road trip with a few from this very gang!
My third visit to Ladakh was all about enjoying company of travellers on the roads. I indulged into a lot of crazy things (took pics in weird poses, clicked boomerangs, got drunk, sang songs, hogged on food, laughed crazily, just relaxed in the car while someone else drove for me) which I wouldn't generally do on my solo travels. I hate to say this would be my last visit to Ladakh, as I know that Ladakh would beckon me very soon, for climbing higher summits.
Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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